Eric Staal’s Saturday is over early thanks to lower-body injury


Eric Staal left Saturday’s Carolina Hurricanes – New York Islanders game and didn’t return because of a lower-body injury.

To state the obvious, it’s a tough blow for the Hurricanes, a team that seemed to be getting a little bit healthier lately.

It’s more problematic for Staal personally, however, as one cannot help but wonder if this is a bad time to get injured. After all, the Canadian Olympic roster announcements are just days away, as the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno points out.

The big 29-year-old was heating up lately, too, with five points in his previous two games coming into Saturday’s game. Overall, he’s generated 35 points in 42 games this season (counting tonight’s contest).

The game has an injury and at least one controversial moment, as Matt Martin delivered a questionable hit on Ryan Murphy. (More on that when video becomes available.)

Update: Carolina fans can take heart that the Hurricanes won, at least, beating the Islanders 3-2.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?